I wake up with the tang of blood in my mouth. Half past four. Earlier tonight, a man drowned in the river, while a helicopter hovered over the city, signalling disaster with the chop-chop chop-chop of its incessant rotors. Now the night is silent, except for a distant car alarm, bleating intermittently, and the faint hiss of the flat's water heater.
After the heat, light, and blue skies of California, we readjust ourselves to a city that is now always prepared for floods; the everyday of rain, deep darkness, and frigid rooms. Sometimes we occupy rooms in coats for hours, reading books or watching tv with hands stuffed deep in the pockets of our second skins. Extra-thick socks and fat slippers are mandatory.
But time is another matter, for the time of that West is different than this West: I cannot manage to relocate myself yet. I wake up in that time, thinking in that time. But I rarely dream in that time; for, when I was there only last week, the landscape itself appeared as a dream, as if all the wishes, desires, and despairs of its inhabitants have condensed into a strange place that is both slow and fervid, a delirium of neon signs, palm trees, freeways, strip malls, urban tar pits, graffiti, ornate cocktails, hungry cattle, gnomic architecture, aura readers and so on. This West is a shifting, shimmering landscape, inspiring visions of imminent dystopian futures, where cyborgs stalk among humans as their death-bringers, with memories of a future, fully technological world, tinged in flames. The time of Los Angeles is the past of Blade Runner's present, when the aesthetics of all times dissolve in babel and genius is haunted by the body's accelerated decay.
My eyes look at my city, this West, from that time, and I see a slower, uncrowded, green world, even if it's damp and cold and dark, rife with corruption and collective sorrows. From that West, I know why I am in this West, so that I must struggle to return from that time.